Phillies Welcome Braves for Weekend Series

By Greg Hall, Sports Talk Philly editor

Would you believe the Phillies currently occupy a playoff spot?

Heading into the final series before the 2020 trade deadline (Monday Aug 31 at 4:00 pm ET), the Phillies host the Atlanta Braves for a weekend set at Citizens Bank Park, with the Phils in the eighth and final playoff spot in the National League.

Game one – Friday Aug 28 at 7:05 pm ET on NBCSP & MLB Network – out of market (tv).

Game two – Saturday Aug 29 at 1:05 pm ET on FOX (tv).

Game three – Sunday Aug 30 at 7:08 pm ET on ESPN (tv).

All three games will be broadcast via WIP/WTTM 1680 on the radio.

The series will be the final time the two teams play each other in 2020. The Phillies are currently in third place in the National League East, four games behind the Braves. 

As of this writing, the pitching match ups beyond Friday night's contest are mostly unknown, as Phillies manager Joe Girardi has not announced a starter for Saturday or Sunday following the postponement of Thursday night's game against the Washington Nationals. That start would have belonged to Spencer Howard, who will most likely slot in Saturday or be skipped until his next turn in the rotation.

Friday night will feature one of the Phillies horses, Zack Wheeler, looking to improve to 4-0 against LHP Robbie Erlin, whom the Phillies have had a lot of success against this season.

Erlin has given up six earned runs against the Phillies across 6 2/3 innings in 2020, one start and one relief appearance.

Wheeler's last start was also against the Braves and he dazzled. In seven innings, he gave up a two-run homer, but that was his only mistake. He finished with two earned runs on five hits and eight strikeouts. Unfortunately, the bullpen blew a two-run lead in a Braves 6-5 walkoff win.

Even with the team going 3-2 in his five starts, Wheeler has been worth every penny of the five-year $118 million contract he signed with the Phillies this past offseason.

On Saturday, the Phillies will get another look at RHP Josh Tomlin after scoring four earned runs on six hits across just three innings against him in an Aug 23 win.

Neither team has announced a starter for Sunday, which will be nationally televised for the second week in a row.

Luckily, the Phillies will miss Braves left-handed ace Max Fried and one of their top pitching prospects, RHP Ian Anderson, as both pitched in Wednesday's doubleheader sweep of the New York Yankees.

The offense got back on track against the Nationals after, technically, sweeping that series, their third victory in a row and Girardi's 1,000th as a big-league manager.

Offensively, the club currently ranks in the top four in runs per game (5.35), batting average (.264), on-base percentage (.347) and OPS (.799) and eighth in home runs per game (1.42).

Combine being back at home, missing the Braves best arms and an offense that is clicking again and the Phillies playoff chances (currently hovering around 40 percent) could very well improve with the trade deadline looming.